Although the life expectancy gap between men and women has narrowed over the last
decade, Bangladesh continues to be one of the very few countries in the world where
women’s life expectancy is lower than that of men: with men at 68.6 years and women 68.0
Women are put at risk of HIV/AIDS by their partners’ sexual behaviours, despite the fact
Bangladesh’s overall prevalence rate is believed to be less than one per cent. Most married
men who have unprotected sex with sex workers continue to have sex with their wives.
Consistent condom use among sex workers in Bangladesh brothels is four per cent. For
street-based sex workers it is two per cent. Brothel workers have an average of 19 clients a
week, one of the highest turnover rates in Asia18.
Only 57 per cent of girls aged 10-19 years have heard of HIV/AIDS19.
The tertiary education ratio for female to
males is 36:64, below the MDG target of
50:5020. Early marriage is one of the main
causes of poor enrolment and high female
drop-out rates at the higher education levels.
Increasing tertiary opportunities for girls is
expected to boost the mean age of marriage.
Literacy rates in females aged 20 to 24 years
compared to their male peers is 55:71 (up
from 42:65). This is still well short of the MDG
target of 100:100. In 2000, it was estimated
only 43 per cent of women were literate21.
Net primary school enrolment rates have
achieved gender parity, at 81 per cent for
boys and 84 per cent for girls22.
Almost one in five paid agricultural labourers
is female (19 per cent). However, they only
earn 70 per cent of their male counterparts’
wages. In other sectors, women make up 22
per cent of paid employment. Their wages are
less than half the male wage. (Public servants
have equal wages)23
For one in eight women who earn a wage, someone else decides how that wage will be
spent. More than two in five decide with someone else, such as their husband24.